An Ember in the Ashes (#1 of ?) by Sabaa Tahir
Published Year: 2015
Genre: YA Fantasy
"Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free."
"Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself."
So good. So good. So good. I've been in a little bit of slump, but this book brought me back! It such a fresh premise and I enjoyed the adventures and the characters. There was rumor this was a standalone, and I would've been so upset. But DON'T WORRY, it HAS A SEQUEL.
Two main characters: Laia and Elias, told in dual point of views. Laia had some great character growth and I loved watching her change and mature. Elias had some great action scenes and I loved seeing him find himself. I found myself rushing through each of their chapters to get to the other; and having to go back and reread because I just loved them both.
Secondary characters (tons) but mostly: Helene. She was intense and intimidating. She never once faltered in what she believed in. I truly admire her as a character. Keenan, I think was supposed to be her equivalent, but I just wasn't as crazy about him. Maybe because he didn't get much screen time, but I felt he was a little unnecessary (except that one time, you know the one).
ST wove this dark and twisted plot, where I never knew which way was up or what would happen. Sometimes I didn't even know what I wanted to happen! I was panicked, I was worried, I was hoping beyond hope, and I didn't even know what for. ST had me reading and reading with no breaks.
This is technically a young adult fantasy novel, but it will truly appeal to all ages. There is nothing juvenile about the plot, and the themes are dark powerful issues such as an oppressed race, literacy, etc. Overall, I really enjoyed this one and highly recommend it!
5 out of 5 stars.